Game to be played at Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
Baylor will try to end the up-and-down Jim Grobe coaching era on a high note when it faces Boise State in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl on Dec. 27 at Chase Field in Phoenix, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Grobe took over on an interim basis when Art Briles was fired on May 26 amid the school’s sexual assault scandal and led the team to a 6-0 start, but the Bears, who hired Temple’s Matt Rhule to become permanent head coach last week, limp into the contest with a six-game losing streak. “I’m very excited for our players to have an opportunity to play in the Cactus Bowl against a great football team in Boise State,” Grobe told reporters. “I think our guys are looking forward to coaching these kids and getting them ready for a bowl game. So I feel good about playing in a bowl game. This is going to be it for me, so I’d like to win it for sure.”
Playing a Big 12 opponent in the Phoenix area brings back some fond memories for Boise State football fans. The last time the Broncos played a Big 12 opponent in a bowl game was the 2007 Fiesta Bowl against Adrian Peterson-led Oklahoma when Boise State pulled out a memorable 43-42 overtime upset victory. That contest is famous for a 50-yard hook and ladder touchdown play by the Broncos on 4th-and-18 with 18 seconds to go to force overtime, and then Boise State won it with a Statue of Liberty two-point conversion by running back Ian Johnson who then proposed a few minutes later to his girlfriend in the middle of his nationally-televised postgame interview.
This will be the second time Baylor will play a bowl game in the Phoenix area in the last four seasons. After winning the 2013 Big 12 championship, the Bears were upset by Central Florida 52-42 in the Fiesta Bowl. “I like Arizona a lot,” senior linebacker Aiavion Edwards told the Waco Tribune. “We had a good time the last time we were there, and we’re looking forward to finishing the game off better than last time.”
TV: 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: Boise State opened this bowl favored by 10-points, but they’ve since been faded to the current number of -7.5. The total hit the board at 66.5 and has been bet up slightly to 67. Check out the complete line history here.
WEATHER REPORT: If the roof is open at Chase Field, it should be a nice night in Phoenix with clear skies and temperatures in the mid 50’s for the game.
Boise State – S D. Sumner-Gardner (doubtful Tuesday, shoulder).
Baylor – RB T. Williams (probable Tuesday, knee), S D. Hall (questionable Tuesday, concussion), WR P. Stricklin (questionable Tuesday, leg), DE X. Jones (questionable Tuesday, ankle), RB S. Linwood (out Tuesday, personal).
ABOUT BOISE STATE (10-2, 3-9 ATS, 5-7 O/U): After losing to Air Force for the third consecutive year and failing to make it into the conference championship for the second straight season, the Broncos are looking at a potential bowl win over a Big 12 team as something to build on. “We’re trying to finish this season the right way and take everything we’ve learned and apply it,” coach Bryan Harsin told reporters. “And go out there and be a much better football team than we were in the last game.” Junior running back Jeremy McNichols (1,663 yards and 23 touchdowns rushing), sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien (3,341 yards, 23 TDs passing), and wide receivers Thomas Sperbeck (72 catches, 1,193 yards, nine touchdowns) along with Cedrick Wilson (50, 1,041, 10) lead an offense that averaged 35.6 points and 479.8 yards per game.
ABOUT BAYLOR (6-6, 3-9 ATS, 4-8 O/U): The Bears have the fifth-ranked offense nationally, averaging 523.3 yards – including 250.3 yards rushing. However, most of that was accomplished with Seth Russell (152-of-278, 2,126 yards, 20 TD passes) at quarterback and the senior won’t play after breaking his left ankle in a 45-24 loss at Oklahoma on Nov. 12. Freshman Zach Smith started the final three games at quarterback and threw eight touchdown passes compared to six interceptions over that span so look for the Bears to lean heavily on a running game led by sophomore Terence Williams (945 yards, 11 TDs, 5.9 per carry) and senior Shock Linwood (751, two, 5.4).
* Boise State is 1-6 ATS in its last seven games overall.
* Baylor is 1-5 ATS in its last six games overall.
* Over is 4-1 in Boise State’s last five bowl games.
* Over is 4-1 in Baylor’s last five games overall.
Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is backing Boise State with 56 percent of the wagers, while 63 percent of the betting public is on the Over. See full consesnus data here.